Olisa Agbakoba, erstwhile President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to explore new sources of revenue by capitalising on the enormous revenue and jobs from the service sectors also known as the “soft economy” to resolve the budget deficit challenge bedevilling the nation’s economy.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and founder of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) made the call in a letter addressed to the president of the federal republic.
Agbakoba commended Buhari for the early release of the 2021 budget as it signals concern to reflate the economy. He noted that fiscal and monetary policy is broadly harmonised but suggested that the fiscal policy could have been more expansionary.
Reacting to the budget deficit reported to be about N7 trillion and the government’s efforts in raising revenue to assuage the challenge by raising revenue, Agbakoba commented that the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative of Government is very timely.
He further noted that the five critical elements of the initiative are imperative to the economy as the country is faced with an unprecedented revenue challenge intensified by the Covid-19 pandemic and the crash in oil price.
Agbakoba however charged President Buhari to explore and focus on the enormous revenue opportunities that can be harnessed from the services sector, otherwise known as the soft economy.
According to the renowned arbitrator, there are some key service sectors and policies that can generate substantial revenue for the government to tackle the challenge of budget deficit.
He suggested that the government exploit the maritime industry, which he describes as the second-largest contributor of revenue other than oil and also, capitalise on trade facilitation and land administration.
He asserted that if these highlighted areas are being exploited by the government and the Strategic Revenue Growth and Recovery Act enacted, closing the budget deficit and hitting the N100 trillion mark required for the national budget will become a reality.